UCP hiding insurance company profits from Albertans: Opposition

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UCP hiding insurance company profits from Albertans: Opposition
Albertans have seen their insurance rates skyrocket over the past couple of years. Now, the Opposition NDP wants to know why the UCP government has stopped requiring companies to publicly report their financials. Tom Vernon reports – Mar 31, 2022

As insurance costs rise in Alberta, the Alberta NDP is calling on the United Conservative Party to release the superintendent of insurance’s 2020 report on insurance company profitability.

The annual report takes a broad look at Alberta’s insurance industry and includes data on how much insurance companies collect in premiums and how much they paid out on claims in any given year. The numbers are often an indicator of an insurance company’s profit margins for the year.

The UCP government removed the cap on insurance in 2019.

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Pros and cons of no-fault auto insurance in Alberta

According to Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley, the party filed an access to information request for the report but was told that the government will not be publishing a report for 2020 and 2021. She said the information is important since many Albertans are driving less during the pandemic.

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“Higher premiums and fewer claims presumably mean insurance companies made a lot of money, and this report, which has come up every single year for more than a century, would show that one way or the other in detail,” Notley said during a press conference on Thursday.

“The UCP finance minister is choosing not to release this report right after deciding to hand massive profits to insurance companies.”

NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips also denounced the government’s decision not to release the report, adding that many Albertans cannot afford higher insurance premiums on top of increasing utility and grocery bills.

“They do not care about helping people make ends meet, and when it comes time to make a choice in favour of large companies or their friends, they will make that choice at your expense,” Phillips said.

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Albertans fume over pricey insurance rate hikes amid pandemic

Finance Minister Travis Toews said the decision to not publish the report was made internally by the department because they hadn’t had a request to publish the report for two years. All of the information is available online.

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“What we’re seeing with automobile insurance now … They’re actually starting to flatten and come down,” Toews told Global News at a reporter scrum on Thursday afternoon.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said premiums are starting to stabilize and improve after significant pressures on Alberta’s auto insurance system in recent years.

“That’s a good thing. There are still pressures on the horizon, such as inflation, but insurance systems are certainly stabilizing,” IBC vice-president Aaron Sutherland said.

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Sutherland also said the industry has returned over $416 million in premium relief to Albertans because people are driving less because of work-from-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He denied the NDP’s claim that insurance companies are raking in massive profits at the expense of Albertans, saying the rate caps were only a short-term solution.

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“A rate cap is a short-term solution. It holds rates down in the short term, but those cost pressures aren’t addressed and they continue to rise.”

“The introduction of reforms pulled some of those cost pressures out of the system and they have allowed rates to stabilize and begin to fall,” he said.

But for Albertans such as Kelsey Kay, those insurance premiums are still way too costly. Kay said his 24-year-old son was hit hard with auto insurance bills.

“Car insurance, house insurance… It just keeps going up and up,” Kay said.

— With files from Tom Vernon, Global News

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